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Tag Archives: Forgiveness

  • Abundant Forgiveness

    Posted on December 20, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Then Peter came to Jesus and ask, ‘Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seventy times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

    Sin’s offense hurts. There is no doubt about it. Sin wounds indiscriminately. It is no respectr of persons. Sin builds walls. It ravishes relationships and it separates. Sin is a sorry excuse for wrong behavior. Just the sound of the word solicits negative emotion. Sin is deceptive, carnal and Christ-less. Sin is unfair, sad and sometimes sadistic.

    Sin follows a process of desire, conception, birth, maturity and death. James describes its diabolical development. “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15). So sin is not to be taken lightly. Certainly its infliction of pain cannot be ignored for long. It can kill relationships.

    Nonetheless, when you are sinned against you are to forgive. When someone’s sin assaults your attitude, you are to forgive them. When someone’s sin berates your work, you are to forgive them. When someone’s sin violates your trust, you are to forgive them. When someone’s sin steals your joy, you are to forgive them.

    When someone’s sin crushes your dreams, you are to forgive them. When someone’s sin steals from you, you are to forgive them. This level of forgiveness is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural, but it is the way of Christ. Forgiveness is God’s game plan. You will lose if you don’t forgive. Unforgiveness is tortuous to the soul. It is unhealthy for the body and emotions. Unforgiveness fills prescriptions and leaves hollow lives in its wake.

    It doesn’t matter who is the most right or the most wrong. Forgiveness cuts through the varying degrees of guilt and erases the entire debt. True forgiveness comes from the heart of the one offended. It is not a flippant acknowledgement, but a sincere removal of anything that is owed. When the offended one forgives, he or she wipes out the expectation for an apology, a pay back or change. It is forgiveness clear and simple. Forgiveness is letting go of the hurt, anger and shame. When you forgive you are free. You are free from the shackles of sin. When you forgive you trust God to judge others in His time. His judgment is just. God can be trusted with the consequences of sin’s offense.

    Lastly, you continue to forgive others because your heavenly Father continues to forgive you. Without Christ’s forgiveness we are all men and women most miserable. Jesus does not deal in forgiveness quotas. The forgiveness of the Cross was swift, full, final and forever. Unlock your relational restraints with the key of forgiveness. Write a letter with tear soaked ink outlining your forgiveness. Call or e-mail someone today and let them know because you are forgiven, you forgive them. Set free others with forgiveness and you will be set free. There is freedom in Christ. Forgive fast—and forgive often.

    “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34a).

    Prayer: Whom by God’s grace do I need to forgive? Have I accepted Christ’s forgiveness?

    Related Readings: Genesis 50:17; Psalm 130:4; Luke 17:3; Ephesians 4:32

    Post/Tweet this today: Set others free with forgiveness and you will be set free. There is freedom in Christ. #abundantforgiveness

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Forgiveness, Matthew

  • Ask Forgiveness Fast

    Posted on November 22, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

    Jesus describes a worshipper who has come to offer a gift to God, but has breached a relationship with a brother or a sister. This gift is unacceptable to the Lord until the one presenting the gift is reconciled to the one more valuable to God than the offering. It is inconsistent to seek reconciliation with God without first seeking reconciliation with those the Lord has placed in our life. We ask forgiveness from the one we offended on earth, before we ask forgiveness from God in heaven.

    In prayer or worship, who clouds your mind with concern over a disconnected relationship? Who does the Holy Spirit lay on your heart, who has something against you? Maybe you made an insensitive remark that hurt a friend’s heart. Or, you forgot to invite an individual to a special occasion and they felt ignored and rejected. Perhaps a business relationship went awry and you need to ask forgiveness for being greedy. Go quickly, humble yourself and ask forgiveness. The amount of time it takes to seek reconciliation is an indicator of how closely you walk with Christ.

    We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:19-21

    Forgiveness cannot sit still until hearts are healed. Initiative accompanies love. Sometimes it is helpful to write out what you are feeling and how you want to express your contrite heart. You may or may not send the written correspondence, but at the very least it becomes a guide for your conversation. Moreover, make sure to own your offense by not saying, “If I have offended you.” Instead, say, “Please forgive me for hurting you. I was mad, my tone was wrong. I apologize.” Godly sorrow goes a long way toward facilitating forgiveness from the one offended.

    Yes, your efforts to reconcile may be rebuffed, but you can only give up on someone when your Savior Jesus has given up on them. Also, your restitution may be required before reconciliation will take place. Pray about ways for you to replace what your friend lost, since they felt they were being used. Like Zacchaeus (see Luke 19:8), be extremely generous in your pay back. Most of all, you honor Christ when you take the time to be His minister of reconciliation.

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the courage and conviction to seek out those I offend and ask for their forgiveness.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 21:24; Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 23:34; 2 Corinthians 7:11; 1 John 2:9

    Post/Tweet today: The amount of time it takes to seek reconciliation is an indicator of how closely we walk with Christ. #askforgivenessfast

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Forgiveness, Matthew

  • Accepting Forgiveness

    Posted on October 30, 2013 by Wendy Pope

    Wendy Pope

    "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit." Psalm 32:2 (NIV 1984)

    Many years were spent regretting sins from my past. These sins had hurt others and me. Day after day I would replay my decisions. Two decades later, the sting of past sin still had a hold on me.

    God had forgiven me; I'd told Him about my sin and asked Him to pardon me. So why couldn't I accept the freedom of His forgiveness?

    I wanted so badly to believe I was the person David mentions in Psalm 32:2, "Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit." Yet I struggled with accepting that God's grace could erase my sin, wiping it away as if it never happened.

    This can be a hard thing to accept for many of us. It sounds all well and good, but in reality, the weight of sin makes it difficult to believe a perfect God can forgive us.

    Yet, His Word assures us that God does not count our sin against us. So how can we live in this truth?

    The first step is to acknowledge our sin: to ourselves and to God. This opens up the door for honest conversations with the Lord and helps us stop hiding from the fear of being found out.

    The next step is to fill our hearts and minds with truth. Throughout the Bible, God teaches how an unaccepting heart can be changed and softened to accept His forgiveness. The following verses are truth from a loving God who longs to transform our lives through the grace of His forgiveness.

    My God doesn't condemn. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NIV)

    My master is grace, not sin. "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." Romans 6:14 (NIV 1984)

    My Savior Jesus has set me free, therefore I am free. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36 (NIV)

    My old is gone; because of Jesus Christ I am new. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV 1984)

    Are you lugging a load of sin that God has already forgiven? Are you ready to stop living in shame, shackled by regret? Life is too short to exchange the freedom of grace for the bondage of unbelief.

    Today, allow God to wash the hurt and regret from past sins away with the transforming power of His truth. And let's pray for an accepting heart that lives in the freedom of God's grace and forgiveness.

    Dear Lord, by faith I accept Your forgiveness and refuse to be a slave to sin You've already forgiven. Today, I confess and move on! I commit to believe Your transforming truths to live fully and freely in Your grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Reflect and Respond:
    "Do you struggle accepting God's forgiveness? Spend time talking with God and ask for help to accept His forgiveness.

    Use index cards to make several copies of the transforming truths above. Place a copy in your purse, car, Bible, desk, and other places you often go. Read them as long as it takes to experience the blessed life David speaks of in Psalm 32:2.

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 1:18. "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" (NIV 1984)

    Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." (NIV 1984)

    Matthew 19:26, "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (NIV)

    © 2013 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm, Forgiveness

  • Forgiveness of God

    Posted on September 14, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

    The forgiveness of God is far-reaching and without limitation to anyone who believes. He forgives the worst of sinners and the best of saints. Atheists, adulterers, murderers, liars, the hot-tempered, and the mild-mannered can all receive the free forgiveness of their heavenly Father. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all candidates for God’s grace.

    Jesus Christ’s death on the cross bought us back or redeemed us from the penalty of sin. By faith in Him we no longer have to be burdened by our own indiscretions against almighty God. All sins of omission, commission, and ignorance can be laid at the foot of the cross and left for our Lord’s pardon. Have you been freed by His forgiveness?

    Will God forgive years of religious neglect? Yes. Will God forgive a life that lives for itself alone? Yes. Will the Lord forgive divorce, irresponsible living, and laziness? Yes. Will he forgive my chronic complaining, my bad attitude, and my tendency to gossip? Are my pride in my good works and my self-sufficiency covered by Christ’s blood? Yes, God will forgive anything that is an enemy of His grace. His death gives peace.

    “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19–20).

    Forgiveness is free to all who believe, but it came at a great cost in Christ’s death. God gave His Son for our salvation from sin. So have you personally appropriated faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? If so, since your salvation do you regularly bow to Him in confession for the cleansing of your heart? Unconfessed sin clouds clear thinking.

    Since you have believed, you are rich in God’s grace and have a robust remedy for sin. Do you take advantage of your Lord’s forgiveness? As a Christian, do you sit daily at the feet of your Savior and receive freedom through His forgiveness? At the cross you were set free from the eternal penalty of sin, and now His forgiveness frees you from the guilt of sin. Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

    “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (Acts 13:38).

    Prayer: Have I trusted Jesus for the salvation of my sins? What hidden sins do I need to repent of and confess to Him?

    Related Readings: Matthew 26:28; Acts 26:17–19; Romans 6:18–22; Hebrews 9:15

    Post/Tweet: Forgiveness is free to all who believe, but it came at a great cost in Christ’s death. #Godforgives

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Forgiveness, Ephesians

  • Ashley Cleveland Releases First Book

    Posted on June 20, 2013 by Family Christian


    Cleveland Tells Her Story Of A Devastated Childhood, Addiction As A Young Adult
    And The Life-Changing Discovery That Beauty Shines Through Brokenness

    Multiple GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter Ashley Cleveland shares her personal story of pain, music and beauty that shines through brokenness in her first self-penned book, Little Black Sheep, A Memoir releasing in September from David C Cook.  A true story of life on stage and on the streets from the back rooms of Nashville to the churches and clubs of the San Francisco Bay area, Little Black Sheep invites readers to see how their own deepest pain might just be a place of hope.

    “Gradually and reluctantly with a great deal of hemming, hawing and complaining, I surrendered to telling my tale,” shares Cleveland.  “This is the story of the groundwork that paved the way to my faith.  It is not an easy story to tell.”

    Sharing her deeply engaging story with an original, authentic voice that is equal parts humor and pathos, Cleveland was born into a Knoxville, TN family fraught with conflict, yet poised to keep up its seamless appearances despite alcoholism, homosexuality, divorce, displacement and a slavish devotion to performance.  She took the rough road of rebellion into her own addiction and self-destruction.  If there was trouble, near or far, she found it.  In the midst of the chaos she discovered music, something she had a natural gift for and the one thing that engendered a positive response from others.  She continued on, precariously attempting to balance a desire for a career as a recording artist with a growing and consuming addiction, increasingly catastrophic behavior and an absence of any foundation or understanding of a merciful, loving God.

    Interrupted by an unplanned, unmarried and unwanted pregnancy that ultimately becomes the starting point of faith and a life of substance and value, Cleveland encounters the transforming power of the Living God who is abundantly forgiving, tenderhearted and relentlessly faithful to her.  Little by little, her life is ultimately rebuilt, taking all the devastation in her wake and using it as a platform of experience to bring hope and courage to others.  Along the way she finds sobriety, a long, devoted marriage and family, as well as success in her musical career.

    “I have emerged from my own isolation to find that I love belonging to the body of Christ, to the program of AA, to the human community,” writes Cleveland in her book.  “I have been invited in from the margins, not as a guest artist, but as a family member.”

    Now that little black sheep, she ain’t nothin' but trouble
    She’s not worth much and she’ll cost you double
    Shepherd says he knows but he won’t sleep
    He’s gonna go out and find
    That little black sheep
    (From the song “Little Black Sheep” by Ashley Cleveland)

     

    BONUS: Ashley Cleveland "Ridin with the King" Live


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Forgiveness, Faith, Divorce, Ashley Cleveland

  • I Can't Forgive Myself

    Posted on May 28, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

    The workshop had ended. Most of the moms had left the room while she fidgeted with her bag. I could see she wanted to flee, but willpower and a great desire for freedom kept her feet rooted to the floor.

    We sat down and she blurted out: "I've been told for years that when I forgive myself I'll be free. But I can't do it. I've tried."

    I reached for her hands. "I've searched in Scripture. It's not there."

    She looked up in surprise. "What do you mean?"

    Forgiving ourselves. It's not there.

    There are a multitude of scriptures that show us how to offer forgiveness to others, as well as how to receive it. But none that asks us to remove the burdens from our own hearts.

    Thankfully 1 John 1:9 offers a promise. When we hold up our sin before God, He is faithful and just to forgive all our sins.

    Faithful to us? Yes, to us. But also faithful to who He is, and His plan for our forgiveness through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross as He bore our sin.

    But it doesn't end there. You see, when we are forgiven, our sin is reframed. Yes it still happened. But God removes it from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). We are seen as covered in mercy, spared from the punishment that was ours to take.

    My new friend had been trying for years to do a job that wasn't hers. By trying and failing, she saw herself as shameful. That shame affected every aspect of her life: her relationships, her role as mom, and her faith as she tried to please God through service or acts, all the while seeing herself as "less than."

    I asked her if she was willing to allow Christ to do what she had been unable to do for nearly a decade. Rather than forgive herself, would she accept the gift of forgiveness Christ so willingly offers?

    Later that week I received an email from her. She shared that when she walked through the front door that night, her husband said, "Something's different about you."

    It's been nearly three months since this young mom stopped trying to forgive herself, and scooped up the generous gift of God's grace instead. She is still surprised by the transformation. But more so, her family believes she found a miracle.

    One that had been waiting for her all along.

    Perhaps you carry shame. You've been trying to forgive yourself, but realize you can't undo the past. You've said you're sorry. You have changed. But the guilt or burden remains.

    Hand that shame to your Savior today, and allow Him to hurl it as far as the east is from the west.

    It's not your burden to carry any longer.

    Dear Jesus, You paid a heavy price for my sin, and yet I am still carrying it as if it is mine to absolve. I have said I am sorry. I am changing. But this burden isn't mine to carry. Today I joyfully receive Your gift of mercy and grace, and see myself as washed clean because of You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller

    Reflect and Respond:
    Imagine a child carrying a large boulder on his back. There's a sign on the side of the road that says, "Place all boulders here," but he passes it day after day, the burden weighing heavier and heavier. What would you say to that child?

    Today, speak to your own heart as a child of God through these scriptures.

    • God desires to carry my burden (Psalm 55:22)
    • My Savior paid a dear price for my shame (Colossians 1:13-14)
    • God set me free, so today I will be free (Galatians 5:1)
    • My God sees me through His love, so I will see myself that way, too (Psalm 103:12)

    Power Verses:
    Psalm103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." (NAS)

    Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Forgiveness, 1 John

  • Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    Posted on May 14, 2013 by John van der Veen


    Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, forming an improbable triumvirate with the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. The news that Skillet had sold more than a million albums in the U.S. came as a shock to all but the band’s wildly diverse horde of fans, male and female, young and old—known as Panheads—whose still-swelling ranks now officially number in the seven-digit range. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise (Atlantic/Word).

    As soon as the master was turned in to the studio to finish post production on the new album, I sat down with John Cooper

    John Cooper

    (lead singer) to talk through what was behind Rise. As you will see, while reading this, John is a passionate man. He is passionate about his music. His wife. His family. About Christ.

    John: I’m wondering if you could share a little bit with us about the new record, Rise. What’s the story behind this?

    John C.: It’s a story about a typical, American teenage kid coming into adulthood and being faced with how brutal the world is. There are shocking things in the outside world, like school shootings, war and all the things you see on the news everyday.

    This album is about how those things affect the life of a teenager. And it’s not just about the big problems from outside, but also about problems from within. That is, living in a single family house with an abusive dad, fighting at home, school bullying, just not being happy with who you are as a person and about trying to find faith. The whole record is about finding faith in a dark world. Rising up out of your circumstances. It all leads to a climax of the character realizing he is never going to be good enough. He is never going to do enough, and is born to let himself down. Even if the outside world doesn’t let him down. Even if his friends don’t let him down. He is going to let himself down because he needs to be redeemed. He reaches out to God and basically just says, “I need to be saved. I need something bigger than myself. I want a change and I want to be new.” That is the climax of the album during the song “Salvation,” in which he cried out for Salvation. All of the sudden, he is safe and able to rise up out of his circumstance.

    John: John, throughout your discography, you guys have always had one or two songs that have dealt with that person who is being pressured by the elements of this world, by the things of this world. You’ve really kind of encouraged people to rise above it and move past that. This certainly has been part of your call as an artist and as a songwriter through the years. Is this a personal story in a sense, John C.? Do you know this person?

    John C.: Right, well there certainly are aspects of me in this person. It’s not a mural. It’s not every little thing that happens. But, yes, absolutely. In fact, I dare say, there are elements of all of us in this person. I think that’s why this record is coming off well.

    So far, people are experiencing it personally. I think it’s because most of us can relate to that feeling of worthlessness, or maybe we let ourselves down and we just realize that it’s amazing that someone else would love us, especially God. A holy God, for that matter! That He would like us is real shocking. There are personal things in my life, of course, that contributed to this, certainly.

    My mom died when I was young. I was 14. My dad and I didn’t get along for a long time. There were times growing up that I felt afraid and wondered if God was there. When I cried out to Him to help me through those hard times. My story is embedded within this record, definitely.

    Good to be Alive
    Written by John L. Cooper, Zach Malloy, Tom Douglas

    Verse 1
    When all you've got are broken dreams
    Just need a second chance
    And everything you want to be
    Gets taken from your hands

    We hold on to each other
    All we have is all we need
    Cause one way or another
    We always make it, you and me

    This life can almost kill you
    When you're trying to survive
    It's good to be here with you

    CHORUS
    It's good to be alive
    It’s good to be alive
    I was lost and I was gone
    I was almost dead inside
    You and me against the world
    It’s a beautiful night
    It’s good to be alive

    Verse 2
    Driving down this highway
    Soaking up the sun
    Got miles to go before we get home
    And the journey's just begun

    We hold on to each other
    You are everything I need
    You feel like forever
    You're a second chance for me

    Bridge
    It's a beautiful night
    Yeah, it's alright
    It's good to be alive

    John: Your last three records have allowed you guys to walk into various ideologies or arenas of thought where you've been able to speak a very significant message. What has that been like? How has that experience been for maybe you, your wife and for you guys as a band over the last couple of years?

    John C.: It has been thrilling, because evangelism has always been kind of what my life is about. Ever since I became a Christian when I was five, it was a natural gifting and leaning towards sharing my faith with people. That longing and zeal has never changed for me. The only thing I think that has changed is the way I do it and the way that we go about it.

    To answer that question, yeah, I think Skillet has begun to write songs, as you said, songs we could all relate to, not just Christian people. I kind of look at it like the way that Jesus told his parables. That is—and I’m just going to be honest here, but I hope nobody takes it bad—I’ve been a Christian since I was five, and still when I read Jesus’ words I still sometimes go, “Man, I just wonder why he wasn’t more clear about what he was talking about.” It’s a little elliptical you know? You have to dig in and watch it rise and see what he was pointing at. The only answer I have come up with is that the Bible said if you seek God, you will find Him. I started thinking, you know what? That’s how I’m going to write my songs. I’m going to leave them open to interpretation of things that we can all relate to, and then when people go to the website or they come to the show and they hear me doing an interview, they will begin to hear what the songs are about. I hope to point them toward Jesus in that way. The songs are kind of grouped by a message that people can relate to. That is kind of how Skillet has written our songs.

    To answer your other question, it has been thrilling because I love evangelism. They tell of people that have gotten saved from music. Could be the unreachable type, the unreachables of the world and that is where I feel I have a lot to share.

    When our last record came out, there was a guy who basically sent me an email saying he heard our song on NFL. “Hero” was playing and he liked it. He said he went to their website and found out who the band was, and bought the song. He said he loved the song and came to a show. One thing led to another, and basically this guy and his wife were both in the pornography industry. They both were filmmakers. The guy got saved and ended up leading his wife to it too. So they were saved now and got out of that industry and have gotten into church. And it was all from hearing our song on NFL. Stories like that are amazing! It’s something only God can do. And we are so honored He is using our music to do it.

    What I Believe
    Written by John L. Cooper and Korey Cooper

    Verse 1
    The world around me
    Is lost in misery
    The only good I've got in my life is you
    No meaning, no other reason
    When everything feels wrong I feel right with you
    So madly, desperate, deeply, obsessed your love is better than life to me
    Can I have this moment forever?
    Take me to the beginning

    CHORUS
    You are what I believe
    I'll live and die for you
    This is all that I need
    When nothing is real you are my truth
    In the darkness you shine
    Can you keep me safe tonight?
    When I’m down on my knees
    You are what I believe

    Verse 2
    When we started, wholehearted
    I never needed anything or anyone else
    I was broken, you made me whole again
    The only one I trusted more than myself

    So madly, desperate, deeply, I will live for you completely
    Can I have this moment forever?
    Take me to the beginning

    Bridge:
    Believe in your love
    Believe in your life
    Believe that you can put me back together on the inside
    Chase all the fear away
    Every time I speak your name

    Take me
    You are what I believe

    CHORUS
    You are what I believe
    I'll live and die for you
    This is all that I need
    When nothing is real you are my truth
    In the darkness you shine
    Can you keep me safe tonight?
    When I'm down on my knees
    You are what I believe

    John: That is absolutely amazing, John. And I appreciate you sharing that.

    Let’s shift gears now and talk a little bit about the new record. How does a concept record get played live? What is the live show going to look like for Rise?

    John C.: Well, at the moment, we are just going to keep showing our shows as we do them. The really cool thing about this record is that I think the songs live on their own outside of the concept period. It’s really cool because with concept records, sometimes individual songs aren’t as strong on their own outside of the full story. We wrote these songs not intending to make it a concept album. The songs themselves do live on their own, and yet the story seems quite clear per song.

    That’s why I think this record is kind of unique. It’s a concept record full of songs that stand alone with impact, we hope. At the moment, we are going to keep playing the songs as-is, but in the back of our minds, we hope this album garners enough excitement, respect and sales that we could go out and do a tour. The whole show is basically like theater, not a theater performance, but more like cinema rock. Like a movie all the way through. That would be really great. You can’t really plan on that kind of success. You have to hope for it and wait and see what happens.

    John: It’s all about cinema rock, isn’t it? Is there still going to be fire?

    John C.: I sure hope so. I love that. Again, going back to Skillet, in the past a lot of people have told me, “When I’m listening to your music or I see the show, it kind of feels like I’m watching a movie.” People have said that quite a lot. I like the theater aspects and the fire. We were adding some stuff this summer that we’ve never done before. I won’t give it away right now, but we’re beginning to add other effects to our show that I think are bringing even more to that sort of theater/movie experience. We’re going to keep adding surprise elements. I hope that fire is always one of them for the rest of my life.

    John: I do too, man. I keep voting for fire.

    John C.: I agree. It was my birthday [a while ago] and I got these new shoes that I’m really excited about. I put them on and I said to my son, “So, what do you think? Do you like my new shoes?” He said, “Yeah, but I think they would be cooler if there was a skeleton on the side and his skull was on fire.”

    John: I love it.

    John C., with that in mind, either in a live setting or even on your records, we will hear hints of 80s glam rock.

    John C.: Right.

    John: I know you were born in the mid 70s. Are you in love with 80s glam rock as much as I am?

    John C.: Absolutely. You definitely can hear it. In fact, it’s funny because some people ask in interviews, “Who is your biggest influence?” This is awful to say, but I think that in Skillet’s music you hear decades of influence. You definitely have that 80s glam thing. You see it in the show with the fire and the guitar solos. Everything is a little bit over the top.

    Also, I am a really big fan of 70s rock, like the stuff Journey, Kansas, Yes and Fleetwood Mac put out. You can really hear that in the music, too. Even some Meatloaf. It’s got this kind of Queen opera rock thing to it that feels a little dramatic. I think with the strings, it feels a little romantic as well. You can definitely hear all of those. But my voice, I don’t sing like an 80s guy. I sing more like a 90s guy. That is, when I started really singing in rock bands, it was 1992–93, and you had Nirvana, Pearl Jam and all those kinds of bands on the scene. So we definitely have a variety of decades of influence and skill with our music and sound.

    John: Cinema rock.

    John C.: Yeah.

    John: So you are a husband, a father, a songwriter, singer and follower of Jesus. Help the ordinary man—whether in high school, college or married—who has followed your career for the last few years. As someone who is reading this blog who struggles to follow Christ on a daily basis, how do you work that up? How do you follow Jesus on a daily basis and how could you encourage others in their walk?

    John C.: That is a great question. The problem is there is not a great answer, like click your heels together twice and take this pill. I wish there were because it would be easier. I think especially what I’m seeing with young people, young people’s attention spans are just so short these days because of the amount of information available. It is constant bombardment with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. There is so much stuff happening that I think we get drawn into fads. We go, “Man, I’m all about this new TV show, or twit picks. Or the new iPhone.” It’s constant bombardment. Within all of those things, there may be a time for a lot of Christians that they are all about Jesus but then they move onto something else because it’s just constantly moving.

    I tell people, “You have to make a decision in your life now, what your entire life is going to be about.” It’s kind of like when I chose to marry my wife. I made a decision and I knew for the rest of my life until I died or she dies, we are going to be married and that is just the way it is. Nothing is going to change that. I have a kid. Nothing is going to change it. You are going to be a father. Nothing in the world can stop that anymore. Even more importantly, that is what it means to follow Jesus. I am making the decision today that my whole life is going to be about Him, and I will do what He says and I just won’t falter from that. I think a lot of it just comes down to making a decision and sticking to it rather than jumping on and off fads.

    For me, I made that decision years ago and I surrounded myself with other people who made that decision. My pastor, my friends, and my wife. We all have made that decision together and then when things are hard and the new fad comes in, and I go, “Man, maybe I want to give working out more time than I give Jesus,” I have my wife and pastor and friends chime in, and we all pursue Him together.

    I think a lot of Christians don’t make that decision. I always tell people it’s not going to be easier to live for Jesus but you have to make the decision and it can be done. It becomes easier to live for Jesus once you have just made that commitment because that is what your life is about. Instead of finding things that seem more fun, find the most fulfilling thing and that is living for God. Knowing His love, speaking to Him every day and talking to Him. It’s absolutely more fulfilling to your soul than all of these other “fun things.” Anyway, that is what I do. Of course, I read my Bible and I pray, but a lot of it comes down to what our lives are going to be about, and it is Him.

    MY RELIGION

    Music and words: John L. Cooper and Korey Cooper

    Verse 1
    Who's gonna save my soul
    Nothing and nobody but you
    Who's gonna make me whole
    Nothing and nobody but you

    Can't change me, sway me
    Don't know what to make of me
    You've got my devotion fanatical though it may be
    I love you mind, heart, body and soul
    You're the only sanctuary that i know

    CHORUS
    I don't need to stare at stained glass and a steeple
    I don't need to dress to impress all of the people
    Don't need no priest
    Don't need no pew
    You are my religion my religion is you

    I don't need no other purpose
    You give me a reason
    Ain’t their business what I wanna believe in
    You are my priest
    You are my truth
    You are my religion, my religion is you

    Verse 2
    Who's gonna heal my pain
    Nothing makes me feel like you do
    Who can drive my demons away
    Nothing makes me heal like you do
    I love you mind, heart, body and soul
    You're the only sanctuary that I know

    CHORUS
    I don't need to stare at stained glass and a steeple
    I don't need to dress to impress all of the people
    Don't need no priest
    Don't need no pew
    You are my religion my religion is you

    I don't need no other purpose
    You give me a reason
    It ain’t their business what I wanna believe in
    You are my priest
    You are my truth
    You are my religion, my religion is you

    Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me

    Bridge
    Mind, heart, soul and strength
    Belong to you, belong to me
    Got my devotion I will follow where you lead
    I won't be told what to feel and how to show
    My love can't be stopped
    Love you any way I want

    John: I love it John, and I really appreciate your honestly there. That is really good to hear. One last question before we leave?

    John C.: Hit me.

    John: Red Bull, Mountain Dew or coffee.

    John C.: Oh gosh, you know what? I’m not in love with any of them to tell you the truth. These days I drink coffee, not a lot, but I do drink coffee. I haven’t been drinking sugar or caffeinated drinks. I got off that. I am over six months Dr. Pepper-free. Dr. Pepper was my drug of choice.

    John: That’s right, I forgot about that. I’m sorry I should not have offended you by saying Mountain Dew. I should have said Dr. Pepper, Red Bull or coffee.

    John C.: It would be Dr. Pepper but I am recovering.

    John: You are recovering.

    John C.: That is one of those things that I could never touch it again because I’m like a Dr. Pepper-a-holic. I haven’t told anybody that in interviews. You are the first person to hear me say that I’m six months Dr. Pepper-free.

    John: Can I ask why you gave it up?

    John C.: It was just bad for me. Diabetes runs in my family. I’m like, you know what? I love this drink too much and it’s not good for me so I quit it. I think even more important than that, is they refused to promote Skillet and put anything behind it. So they haven’t put me in a Dr. Pepper commercial. If they did, then I wouldn’t mind drinking it (laughs). I would give them my Dr. Pepper anonymous card, and I would take it up again if they would put me in a commercial.

    John: There you go. All right, Dr. Pepper, it’s on the line. It’s all up to them now.

    John C.: Yes.

    John: John, thank you, Man. You’ve made me laugh. You encouraged me in my walk with Christ today. I appreciate you. I appreciate your band and your ministry and your art. I’m excited about this new record.

    John C.: Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it. It was good to talk to you.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Forgiveness, Marriage, Skillet, NFL

  • Heartfelt Forgiveness

    Posted on May 7, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. Matthew 18:35

    Forgiveness is a serious matter to our Heavenly Father. It is so significant that He gave His only son, Jesus, on a cruel Cross as forgiveness for our sins. Forgiveness wipes clean a debt that was humanly impossible to pay: only the sinless One can forgive sin. Because of God’s monumental mercy on us, He expects us to extend this unconditional grace to our offenders. Gratitude has a long memory of His great grace. We forgive freely because God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us!

    Our heartfelt forgiveness gives us freedom. It frees us to be who God wants us to be. Forgiveness frees us from the need to pay back or heap guilt and condemnation on the one who hurt us. When we let go of anger, even bitterness, our emotional energy is free to comfort and care for the needs of other searching souls. A heart bound up in its own hurt cannot even care for itself. Indeed, forgiveness shifts our focus from the idol of self pity to the praise of God’s mercy.

    For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

    You sin when you chose not to forgive. Furthermore, your fellowship with your Heavenly Father is stifled without your heartfelt forgiveness. Your intimacy erodes without the clean slate of forgiveness from Christ. So, how can you know if you have truly forgiven someone who has hurt, even violated you? You begin to bless them instead of curse them. You talk well about them behind their back. You pray for them to grow in God’s grace. Forgiveness frees you to love well.

    There is a risk involved in your heartfelt forgiveness. Your offender may continue their disrespectful, potentially harmful behavior. They may take advantage of your goodwill. Your forgiveness is no guarantee they will change, but you will change. Christ will conform you into His work of grace, mercy and love. God will deal with the unruly ones in His timing. Their conscience is the Holy Spirit’s auditor who will bring them into account. Your heartfelt forgiveness reveals God’s heart.

    Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your great forgiveness compels me to forgive freely.

    Related Readings: Luke 6:37; Ephesians 4:2, 4:32; Colossains 2:14; James 2:13

    Post/Tweet today: Our conscience is the Holy Spirit’s auditor who brings us into account. #accountability
    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry
    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Forgiveness, Matthew

  • Abundant Forgiveness

    Posted on April 28, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”    Matthew 18:21-22

     

    Sin’s offense hurts. There’s no doubt about it. It wounds indiscriminately, and it is no respecter of persons. Sin builds walls, as it separates and ravishes relationships. Just the sound of the word elicits negative emotion. It is deceptive, carnal, Christless, unfair, sad, and sometimes sadistic. Sin follows a process of desire, conception, birth, maturity, and death. James describes its diabolical development. “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15). So sin is not to be taken lightly. Certainly its infliction of pain cannot be ignored for long.

     

    Sin invites a response from the one it offends. One option is to fight sin with sin. This is messy and can be long and drawn out. No one (except Satan) really wins when sin battles sin. Sin is rampant, and no one is immune from its consequences. It divides, belittles, and brings on relational suicide. Nonetheless, when you are sinned against, you are to forgive. When someone’s sin assaults your attitude, you are to forgive him. When someone’s sin berates your work, you are to forgive him. When someone’s sin violates your trust or steals your joy or crushes your dreams or steals from you, you are to forgive him. This level of forgiveness is counter-intuitive and countercultural, but it is the way of Christ. Forgiveness is God’s game plan. You will lose if you don’t forgive, for unforgiveness is tortuous to the soul. It is unhealthy to the body and the emotions. Unforgiveness leaves hollow lives in its wake. However, forgiveness is able to let go and let God be the judge.

     

    Forgiveness cuts through the varying degrees of guilt and erases the entire debt. True forgiveness comes from the heart of the one offended (Matthew 18:35b). Forgiveness is not a flippant acknowledgement. It is a sincere removal of anything that is owed. When the offended one forgives, he wipes out the expectation of an apology, the payback, or the change. It is forgiveness, clear and simple. Forgiveness is letting go. It is letting go of the hurt, anger, and shame. When you forgive, you are free. You are free from the shackles of sin. When you forgive, you trust. You trust God to judge others in His time. His judgment is fair and just. God can be trusted with the consequences of sin’s offense.

     

    Continue to forgive others because your heavenly Father continues to forgive you. The Scripture teaches, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Without Christ’s forgiveness, you are lost and undone. Jesus does not deal in forgiveness quotas. The forgiveness of the cross was swift, full, final, and forever. Unlock your relational restraints with the key of forgiveness. Write a letter with tear-soaked ink that documents your forgiveness. Call or e-mail someone today and let them know that because you are forgiven, you forgive them. Set others free with forgiveness, and you will be free. There is freedom in Christ. Forgive fast and forgive often. The forgiveness of Christ is forever.

     

    Post/Tweet: Unforgiveness is tortuous to our soul. It is unhealthy to our body and our emotions. #forgiveness

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

     

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Forgiveness, Matthew

  • Forgive Yourself

    Posted on April 5, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

    Have you forgiven yourself? Have you really forgiven yourself? We know we have forgiven ourselves if we are free from guilt and self-condemnation. Otherwise we are stuck in the crazy cycle of re-living bad decisions that are done and cannot be changed. It is impossible to continually guilt our conscience in order to make up for past mistakes.

    When we do not release ourselves from previous indiscretions we try to make up for them by overcompensating in the present. Perhaps you neglected your child in their early years, and now as an older teenager you’ve tried to make up for your absence by enabling their poor decisions. Instead, they need to experience the consequences of bad behavior while they are with you, so they can learn and grow into responsible adults and citizens.

    Jesus tells the story of a loving father who allowed his son to hit bottom, and as a consequence the son came to realize and take  responsibility for his reality: “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you (Luke 15:17-18).

    Forgiving yourself begins by embracing the truth that your heavenly Father has forgiven you. The grace of God is in abundant supply; no one is beyond its reach. The Lord loves you unconditionally, and He forgives the objects of His love. Has the grace of God seeped deep into your soul, so you know in your heart and mind that you are set free from the guilt and shame of sin? If not, forgive yourself and trust the Lord to make up for lost time.

    “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

    When you forgive yourself, you are able to forgive others. Self-forgiveness is a key to unlocking real relationships. Authentic community with Christ and Christians comes from forgiveness from your heavenly Father, forgiveness from others, and forgiveness from yourself. What have you not released yourself from in forgiveness? Lay it at the altar of God’s grace and He will extinguish it with His eternal fire of forgiveness and love.

    “This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:38-39). When you love yourself—you forgive yourself!

    Prayer: How can I grow in my love and forgiveness of myself? How does God forgive me?

    Related Readings: Psalm 130:3-5; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Colossians 1:14; 1 John 4:7-12

    Post/Tweet today: Forgiving yourself begins by embracing the truth that your heavenly Father has forgiven you. #forgiveyourself

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Forgiveness, Romans

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